Here’s the final countdown to our favourite albums of 2014! In case you missed the initial 20-11 picks, you can check them out here. It was a tough choice to decide the #1 spot this year; the contenders were of such high calibre. Somewhat coincidentally, this years picks really do showcase a variety of genres but I guess that’s just a testament to the strength of the music industry at the moment. The media portray everything to be centred around EDM, but you won’t find any of that nonsense here because apart from maybe Porter Robinson, there hasn’t been much of actual worth. Again, there’s a neat little Spotify playlist at the bottom full of tracks from all 20 of the best albums 2014 had to offer.
DISCLAIMER: It’s all subjective. Not just this one, but all of ’em, really.
3. Jungle – Jungle [XL Recordings] [Buy]
Jungle emerged in 2013 with a song called ‘The Heat’. Since then their rise to chart-success has been quite esoteric. Band members known only by the initials J and T had this illustrious, opulent New York sound, but the fact that it was made somewhere in West London was a chink in the armour for most critics. It was the sound of a large band, euphoric but at the same time slightly contrived. No one really knew anything of their history, their influences or even how they somehow managed to become a huge social media hype overnight. It questions whether their fame was the product of pure talent or a great marketing strategy.
Discounting the path in which they developed such notoriety, Jungle is still an incredible album. However tedious it may become, anthems such as ‘Busy Earnin”, ‘Julia’ and ‘Accelerate’, with its falsetto-led, space funk and atmospheric, downbeat jazz influences make this debut EP so entirely unique, you can only hope their second full-length conjures up something equally as magical.
2. Band Of Skulls – Himalayan [Psycollective] [Buy]
Himalayan is one of the most underrated albums of the year. We’ve seen little-to-no praise across the board, from the Mercury awards, to various albums of the year lists to the endless meaningless award shows funded by stupidly disparate brands. Having spent the best part of 2009 in the shadows of The White Stripes and Queens of the Stone Age, Band of Skulls, a 3-piece from Southampton have returned with an album that sounds confident enough fill stadiums. ‘Himalayan’ is as epic and monumental as its apparent analogy; with the climactericness of the self-titled lead track to the grunge-inflicted, duskily evocativeness of ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and ‘Toreador’, this is a full-length that nods in the direction of alternative, 1960s and 1970s glam rock.
The hooks feel instantly familiar and are in part, characterised by AC/DC-like lightening riffs with subtle tempo changes and catastrophic choruses that could trigger a frenzy almost anywhere. In part, Himalayan is sheer brilliance, it’s an album that’s been on our playlist throughout the year and is without a doubt one of the strongest rock n’ roll LP’s of the year.
1. Todd Terje – It’s Album Time [Olsen Records] [Buy]
Even though he’s been DJing, producing and remixing for almost a decade now, Todd Terje is a man so anonymous, even he doesn’t care how you pronounce his name. Even though his persona is somewhat one of secrecy, his debut LP is packed with personality and its neo-disco, cosmic grooves form a clear picture of Terje’s affinity to add life and soul to any party. The whole thing is wrapped in ridiculousness, from the cover art to the album title to the quirkiness of the Bryan Ferry collaboration – he’s nailed every last daft aesthetic to perfection.
However, don’t let that detract from the sonic intricacies Terje has executed in this album. Tantrically teasing – ‘Delorean Dynamite’ has the whole 80s, sweat-band wearing, athletic appearance covered whilst ‘Oh Joy’ marries Giorgio Moroder type synths with a jazz-influenced 60s library to take its listener on a cosmic voyage. Intrigued? I should think so. ‘It’s Album Time’ is a great album in today’s dance music genre piss pot. It works its exhilarating magic in a subtle and intriguing way, and comes complete with a gorgeous, futuristic coda.
Check this Spotify playlist out featuring tunes from all of our top 20 favourite albums of 2014! (It starts off pretty relaxed, something you can have on during the day then picks up the pace in the final third).
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